Punjab is one of the most prosperous states in India, and the food of Punjab attests to this in every morsel. Even though it is known as the breadbasket of India, we get so much more than just that in their cuisine. Down south, a lot of people think that most North Indians are Punjabi and you can’t blame them given all the Punjabi influence in the culture up north! No matter what divides people, food has the power to unite us as Indians, especially the rich Punjabi food with its succulent taste and desi ghee. And with Pakistan being Punjab’s neighbour, a lot of Pakistani flavours have also seeped into the cuisine of Punjab giving it even more exotic flavour.
1. Butter Chicken - The King of all Punjabi dishes!
While chicken may very well be called the national bird of Punjab, butter chicken is the crowning jewel of the food of Punjab. While it may not have originated in Punjab, it was invented by a Punjabi family so that counts, right? No celebration can be complete without this delicacy. This creamy, gravy dish is lightly spiced and paired up with either naan or rumaali roti.
2. Shakkar Para - A sweet, indulgent dish of Punjab!
A great accompaniment to tea, it can also be snacked on when you’re craving something a little sweet. Made from semolina and flour, it is light and not overly sweet. For those with a sweeter tooth, these can be coated in coarse sugar or desecrated coconut for a different flavor. These can be just as easily made at home and stored for 2-3 weeks to keep munching on! It is deep-fried Punjabi Food so do be careful of how many you munch on.
A drink known far and wide, lassi is something Punjabi’s pride themselves in. Though it can be salty, the original lassi as it became famous, is sweet with a dollop of cream and butter to make it as rich as you can. Flavours like mango rose or strawberry are added these days to give it a twist while beating the summer heat. Almost all restaurants serve this even if they’re not Punjabi joints which show the popularity of this humble drink.
Be it Amritsari chole or Peshwari chole, they’re both equally delicious, just the place of origin varies. A staple in Punjabi cuisine, this chickpea dish is best had with either a paratha or naan. Or you can just have spoonfuls of it as is, given how good it tastes. The difference between them is that Peshwari is slightly drier while Amritsar is made with a bit of gravy. The spices used are also different but not all that much. So it really depends on which part of the food of Punjab you feel like owning your allegiance to while ordering!
5. Chole-Bhature - Punjabi Food Fiesta!
It’s a standard Punjabi dish in most fast-food restaurants now. And these two accompany each other like a dream when you feel like indulging a little. Made with flour and milk rather than wheat flour, it’s different from a poori. And although it’s much larger than a poori, you can’t just eat one because it’s that tasty! The soft, slightly fermented bhatura should be your Go-to when you are craving some hardcore, spicy food of Punjab.
6. Parantha - The Staple Food of Punjab
No matter who you are, chances are that you’ve had a parantha at least once in your life. This delectable offering has come to India through the annals of Punjabi cuisine, and what a discovery that was! Be it plain or stuffed, this bread is a staple of most Punjabi households. Even while travelling, the most preferred item to eat at a Dhaba is mostly always a paratha. Fried in desi ghee is the way most people in Punjab like it. Have with some cold curd and pickle, it is quite a humble match made in gastronomic heaven.
The possibilities of the stuffings are endless. Be it potatoes, onions, cottage cheese, keema to newer variants like bottle gourd, mangoes and almost anything you could imagine! The popularity is a testament is a fact that the national capital also has an area ‘parathewali gali’ dedicated to serving up all possible varieties of it. Plus, like a roti, it doesn’t even have to be round so you can definitely make it at home without being taunted about making a ‘world map’ in the name of food!